By Keith Laing - 10/15/14 10:27 AM EDT
A senior House Democrat is joining calls for a ban on flights to and from Ebola-stricken African counties amid concerns about the possibility of the deadly disease spreading, according to a Wednesday report.
The call for an Ebola flight ban from Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) is a rebuke of President Obama and health officials who have resisted limiting travel between West Africa and the U.S. because they say a ban would make relief efforts more difficult.
In a speech at the Smyrna, Ga., Rotary Club, Scott questioned the wisdom of continuing to allow flights from West Africa after Thomas Eric Duncan became the first person in the U.S. diagnosed with Ebola earlier this month, The Marietta Daily Journal reports.
Scott there were “no question” that a travel ban would be appropriate to deal with the Ebola panic that has taken place in the U.S. since Duncan’s diagnosis. Two-thirds of respondents in a recent survey support such a ban.
Duncan, who died last week, was diagnosed shortly after he flew from Liberia to Dallas, with connections in Brussels and Washington, D.C.
Scott said Obama was wrong to resist banning flights from countries that are battling Ebola, according to the report.
“We’ve got to ban those flights,” he said. “We’ve got to protect the American people from this disease. It’s not here — or it was not here — and the president said a week or two ago, ‘We don’t know of any case’ where it would be here. And now it’s here, and it’s already killed somebody.”
The Obama administration has responded to the Ebola outbreak by increasing screening for symptoms of the disease at major international airports in Washington, D.C.; New York City; Newark, N.J.; Chicago and Atlanta.
The enhanced Ebola screening involves checking the temperature of passengers who are arriving from West African countries and asking them to fill out questionnaires about their travel histories.
Critics have noted that the checks could be beaten by passengers who take Advil to lower their temperatures or lie on their travel history questionnaire.
The White House has expressed confidence that the increased Ebola screening would reach 94 percent of passengers who are arriving in the U.S from West Africa.